EE Student Information

EE Student Information, Spring Quarter 19-20: FAQs and Updated EE Course List.

Updates will be posted on this page, as well as emailed to the EE student mail list.

Please see Stanford University Health Alerts for course and travel updates.

As always, use your best judgement and consider your own and others' well-being at all times.

News

Professor Chelsea Finn
April 2020

Professor Chelsea Finn studies intelligence through robotic interaction at scale, and is affiliated with SAIL and the Statistical ML Group. In addition to teaching, she does research projects with her PhD students, and runs her lab. She also does research work with the Google Brain Team.

She was interviewed by Synced as part of their 'Women in AI' special project. Modified excerpts from that article follow. 

Chelsea graduated with her Bachelor's in electrical engineering and computer science from MIT and completed her PhD in computer science at UC Berkeley. Her dissertation "Learning to Learn with Gradients" won the 2018 ACM Doctoral Dissertation Award.

Chelsea is actively concerned about the broad impacts of underrepresentation. "I worry about people feeling like they don't fit in, that there aren't people that look like them in a place," she said.

At a young age, Chelsea really enjoyed solving puzzles and problems, and with both parents being engineers she knew that engineering was one way to do that. Chelsea chose to major in Computer Science and Electrical Engineering because she believed that would leave many doors open for her to try different things later down the line. As she became more and more drawn to robotics, machine learning, and AI, she realized the need to go to grad school and do research if she hoped to make new advances and develop new algorithms.

Chelsea says when she started her PhD she wasn't planning to stay in academia because making products in the industry was more appealing. But things didn't go as planned when she later realized the greater long-term impact she could have through research and teaching.

Currently Chelsea helps pair undergrads with grad students in AI so that they can learn firsthand what grad school is like, what's exciting about doing research, and steps they should consider if they are interested in research and AI. 

She has also been helping with other outreach programs for high school students through AI4ALL, a nonprofit dedicated to increasing diversity and inclusion in AI education, research, development, and policy. The nonprofit was co-founded in 2015 by Professor Fei-Fei Li. The first program that the team launched was SAILORS — a summer outreach program for high school girls to learn about human-centered AI.

Chelsea is also well aware that it takes time for any trends to really lead to concrete, measurable improvement, especially since the number of women studying or pursuing a career in computer science has remained low over the past decade.

It's still a work in progress, and fixing the pipeline isn't the entire problem, she added. "I think there's still more that can be improved — in terms of creating a welcoming and inclusive environment."

 

Excerpted from Synced, "Women in AI | Chelsea Finn: 'I Certainly Feel Like a Minority'" March 30, 2020


 

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image of professor Krishna Shenoy
April 2020

Researchers from Professor Krishna Shenoy's Group: Saurabh Vyas (Bioengineering PhD candidate), Daniel O'Shea (EE postdoctoral researcher), and Professor Stephen Ryu, M.D. have found that the brain is deeply interested in what happens before you make a movement. Their paper was published in cell.com's Neuron.

Existing theories focus on the practice part — the repetition — not the preparation.
In fact, prior to this study, neuroscientists had no reason to think this preparatory state played any part in learning, says Krishna Shenoy. "We're saying that preparation not only has something to do with learning, it might actually be one of the biggest parts of it," adds Krishna who is a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator.

To arrive at this new understanding, the researchers explored how monkeys learn a relatively simple motion: how to use a videogame joystick. In a series of experiments, they first trained the monkeys to use the joystick to direct a computer cursor toward a target on the screen. Next, the scientists altered how the joystick worked so that when the monkeys moved the joystick in the direction they thought was upward or leftward or rightward, the cursor moved in a different direction than expected. Thus, the animals had to learn to move the joysticks anew to get the cursor to the target.

Saurabh Vyas uses an analogy to explain the significance of these findings. Imagine LeBron practicing free throws. He shoots the ball, and gets close, and his learning system uses the error to make some changes in the brain. But if his brain activity is disrupted during the planning period — or he doesn't take an instant to pre-visualize the shot — his next attempt will not do as well because he wasn't mindful enough during the critical, pre-movement period.

These findings significantly advance our understanding of the neurological underpinnings of learning. It has long been known that motor and other areas in the brain become active prior to movement. During this preparatory phase, brain activity reflects precise details of how the body should complete a movement.

Consequently, giving the mind more time to prepare — more time to visualize the task at hand — substantially improves learning. From a purely practical standpoint, the findings could reshape how athletes, artists, musicians or anyone who moves their body gets better at what they do.

Ultimately, Krishna and Saurabh hope to apply this new understanding to their specialty: developing prosthetic devices that are controlled by chips implanted in the brain that transform an individual's thoughts into movement. Krishna adds, "The more we understand about how the brain learns new motor skills and performs movement calculations, the more lifelike and realistic we can make thought-controlled prosthetics."

 

Excerpted from Stanford Engineering,"A team of scientists explore how the brain trains muscles to move" February 26, 2020.

 

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image of Cindy Nguyen, EE PhD candidate and Prof. Tsachy Weissman
March 2020

A collaboration on image compression between researchers and three high school students found human-powered image sharing proved more effective than an algorithm's work. Professor Tsachy Weissman realized the algorithm had hundreds of thousands of human engineering hours, but didn't include human-centric factors that three high schoolers had.

 

This was the seed for STEM to SHTEM– an internship program for high school students whose various backgrounds, brings tremendous benefit to the research collaboration.

 

The STEM to SHTEM program kicked off in 2019. 

All of the projects from summer 2019 are included in the "Journal for High Schoolers" which was produced by last year's interns and mentors. Several projects have resulted in papers submitted to scholarly journals, with one planning to be presented at the Human-Robot Interaction Conference in spring. The work also lives on in new collaborations between other research groups who may have remained unacquainted if not for STEM to SHTEM.

Professor Weissman, PhD candidates Cindy Nguyen and Kedar Tatwawadi are currently figuring out what workshops and presentations they and their colleagues can give to the interns this summer. Their goal is to offer sessions that are educational, fun and encouraging.

"During the process of designing what the program would look like, I thought about my experiences as a high school intern and as a first-generation, low-income undergraduate," said Cindy Nguyen (EE PhD candidate). "Being able to give other students the opportunity that I had is such a privilege."

With the program open for applications, the team hopes to draw broad interest from students – including those who lack confidence in their STEM skills, whose talents lie outside STEM or who aren't yet sure about their future academic plans after high school. The program also offers some financial support to students who would otherwise be unable to participate.

"We aim to give every student a taste of the college adventure," said Kedar Tatwawadi (EE PhD candidate). "It could inspire them to take that adventure on and, perhaps, they will even go for graduate studies."


2019 mentors and collaborators included producer and director Devon Baur, sketch artist Frank Hom, and professors Srabanti Chowdhury, Subhasish Mitra, Dorsa Sadigh, Debbie Senesky and Gordon Wetzstein, and the members of their labs.

Note on COVID-19 and STEM to SHTEM program: We plan to proceed with the program for the time being. If needed, we intend to take the program fully online (e.g. weekly lectures via video, mentoring meetings online, etc.) and possibly adapt the start and end date of the program to fit the summer schedules of high schools that are currently dismissed.


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image of Prof. Goldsmith, framer of NAE's diversity statement
March 2020

Approved by NAE Council in early February, the statement, definitions and goals establish a clear framework relevant to NAE members, staff and volunteers.

Members of NAE's Committee on Diversity and Inclusion are Aziz I. Asphahani, Lauren Bartolozzi, Corale L. Brierley (committee chair), David E. Daniel, Andrea Goldsmith, Wesley L. Harris, Enrique J. Lavernia, Julia M. Phillips and Wanda A. Sigur.

In addition to the statement, the committee established goals and how they will be implemented and measured. Complete definitions and goal details are available on NAE.edu.

 

Please join us in embracing the important work being done by the NAE to promote a vibrant and diverse engineering profession.

National Academy of Engineering's Diversity, Inclusion, and Equity Statement and Goals

The National Academy of Engineering requires and values the diversity of its members, staff, volunteers, and others who seek to contribute and recognizes inclusion and equity are vital to ensure all viewpoints, perspectives, and talents are brought to bear in addressing our nation's critical engineering and technology challenges and promoting a vibrant engineering profession.

Goal 1: Embrace Diversity
Goal 2: Drive Inclusion
Goal 3: Expect Equity

Read full statement on NAE.edu


Related News

image of Professor Pat Hanrahan, 2019 Turing Award winner
March 2020

Congratulations to professor Pat Hanrahan and Ed Catmull

Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) named Pat Hanrahan and Edwin (Ed) Catmull recipients of the 2019 ACM A.M. Turing Award for fundamental contributions to 3-D computer graphics, and revolutionary impact of these techniques on computer-generated imagery (CGI) in filmmaking and other applications.

Pat Hanrahan, Canon Professor in the School of Engineering, said "The announcement came totally out of the blue and I am very proud to accept the Turing Award. It is a great honor, but I must give credit to a generation of computer graphics researchers and practitioners whose work and ideas influenced me over the years."

"All of us at Stanford are tremendously proud of Pat and his accomplishments, and I am delighted that he and his colleague Ed Catmull are being recognized with the prestigious Turing Award," said Stanford President Marc Tessier-Lavigne. "Pat has made pioneering contributions to the field of computer graphics. His work has had a profound impact on filmmaking and has created new artistic possibilities in film, video games, virtual reality and more."

The ACM A.M. Turing Award, often referred to as the "Nobel Prize of Computing," carries a $1 million prize, with financial support provided by Google, Inc. It is named for Alan M. Turing, the British mathematician who articulated the mathematical foundation and limits of computing.

Please join us in congratulating Pat and Ed on receiving the 2019 ACM A.M. Turing Award.

 

Excerpted from ACM Turing Award and news.stanford.edu/2020/03/18/pat-hanrahan-wins-turing-award/

 

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Image credit: Andrew Brodhead

image of Meo Kittiwanich, 2020 Shah Award winner
March 2020

Congratulations to Meo Kittiwaniwich, director of student and academic affairs, at Stanford's Department of Electrical Engineering (EE). Meo manages EE's student services team that oversees admissions, degree progress, course scheduling and financial aid.

The Shah Award recognizes School of Engineering staff for outstanding competence, dedication, and accomplishments. Engineering Dean Jennifer Widom stated in her announcement, "We are fortunate to have a superb staff at Stanford Engineering, so selecting the winners is never an easy task! Please join me in congratulating these outstanding individuals and thanking them for their commitment and service to the school."

Excerpts from Meo's nominators include, "Meo has always been a wonderful, collaborative colleague. But this past year she was the "quiet anchor" in the midst of intense challenges." Colleagues also cited Meo's calm compassion for all of those in our community, as well as her knowledge of the university, and a collaborative style that make her "an amazing and important colleague."

 

Please join us in congratulating Meo on her tremendous commitment to EE, her colleagues, and Stanford's students.

image of EE professors Dwight Nishimura and John Pauly
February 2020

Professors Dwight Nishimura, John Pauly, and Albert Macovski lead the Magnetic Resonance Systems Research Lab (MRSRL) in Electrical Engineering. Their lab designs new magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) techniques and equipment for improved disease diagnosis and treatment. These technologies enable MRI scanning with greater speed, clarity, contrast, and comfort. Students and staff work with physicians on imaging solutions for major health problems such as cancer, heart disease, blood vessel disease, and joint pain.

Recently, Dwight and John joined the Medical and Scientific Advisory Board of HeartVista, a pioneer in AI-assisted MRI solutions. The company uses technology that originated in their research lab, MRSRL. Additional details on the MRSRL research can be found on the lab's website: mrsrl.stanford.eduBoth Dwight and John are recipients the highest honor from the International Society for Magnetic Resonance in Medicine – the Gold Medal.

Photo source: mrsrl.stanford.edu

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image of professor Shanhui Fan and postdoc researcher Avik Dutt
February 2020

 

Professor Shanhui Fan and postdoctoral researcher Avik Dutt describe their discovery in an article published in Science.

Essentially, the researchers tricked the photons — which are intrinsically non-magnetic — into behaving like charged electrons. They accomplished this by sending the photons through carefully designed mazes in a way that caused the light particles to behave as if they were being acted upon by what the scientists called a "synthetic" or "artificial" magnetic field.

In the short term, this control mechanism could be used to send more internet data through fiber optic cables. In the future, this discovery could lead to the creation of light-based chips that would deliver far greater computational power than electronic chips. "What we've done is so novel that the possibilities are only just beginning to materialize," said EE postdoc Avik Dutt.

Although still in the experimental stage, these structures represent an advance on the existing mode of computing. Storing information is all about controlling the variable states of particles, and today, scientists do so by switching electrons in a chip on and off to create digital zeroes and ones. A chip that uses magnetism to control the interplay between the photon's color (or energy level) and spin (whether it is traveling in a clockwise or counterclockwise direction) creates more variable states than is possible with simple on-off electrons. Those possibilities will enable scientists to process, store and transmit far more data on photon-based devices than is possible with electronic chips today.

To bring photons into the proximities required to create these magnetic effects, the Stanford researchers used lasers, fiber optic cables and other off-the-shelf scientific equipment. Building these tabletop structures enabled the scientists to deduce the design principles behind the effects they discovered. Eventually they'll have to create nanoscale structures that embody these same principles to build the chip. In the meantime, reports Shanhui Fan, "we've found a relatively simple new mechanism to control light, and that's exciting."

Excerpted from ScienceBlog "What If We Could Teach Photons To Behave Like Electrons?"

 

Related News

February 2020

The Future of Everything

Professor Jelena Vučković is a Jensen Huang Professor in Global Leadership in the School of Engineering, a Professor of Electrical Engineering and by courtesy of Applied Physics at Stanford, where she leads the Nanoscale and Quantum Photonics Lab. She is a director of Q-FARM (Quantum Science and Engineering Initiative), and is also affiliated with Ginzton Lab, PULSE Institute, SIMES Institute, Stanford Photonics Research Center (SPRC), SystemX Alliance, and Bio-X at Stanford.

Jelena joins podcast host Professor Russ Altman to discuss the power and promise of photonics. Transcript available 

 

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professor Andrea Goldsmith
February 2020

Professor Andrea Goldsmith has long been a champion of diversity and inclusion. While chair for an award selection committee, she saw data on gender and geographic diversity and realized that women and people from specific IEEE regions were rarely nominated for major awards. She also realized that implicit bias is likey to play a role in award committees decisions. Since then she has been raising awareness and educating peers about implicit bias.

Andrea leads the IEEE Board of Director's committee on diversity, inclusion, and professional ethics. The committee is aligned into three sub-committees working toward diversity and inclusion across IEEE; merging and raising awareness about IEEE's ethics and conduct codes; and establishing best practices for violations and reporting.

The sub-committee on diversity and inclusion has seen an increase in awareness across all of IEEE, and are witnessing more women and candidates from countries that had been underrepresented, receiving more nominations for IEEE awards.

Another positive result is the adoption of a new diversity statement in the IEEE policies. The updated policy reflects IEEE's longstanding commitment to ensure the engineering profession maximizes its impact and success by welcoming, engaging, and rewarding those who contribute to the field in an equitable manner.

IEEE Diversity Statement

"IEEE's mission to foster technological innovation and excellence to benefit humanity requires the talents and perspectives of people with different personal, cultural, and disciplinary backgrounds. IEEE is committed to advancing diversity in the technical profession, and to promoting an inclusive and equitable culture in its activities and programs that welcomes, engages and rewards those who contribute to the field without regard to race, religion, gender, disability, age, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression."

 

We are proud of Andrea's work raising awareness and accountability for inclusion and diversity.

 prof. Goldsmith with group women engineers, Rising Stars 2017

Prof. Goldsmith (lower left) and Rising Stars Workshop attendees, in the Packard Building atrium.

 

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February 2014

Three staff members each received a $50 Visa card in recognition of their extraordinary efforts as part of the department’s 2014 Staff Gift Card Bonus Program. The EE department received several nominations in January, and nominations from 2013 were also considered.

Following are January’s gift card recipients and some of the comments from their nominators:

Ann Guerra, Faculty Administrator

  • “She is very kind to students and always enthusiastic to help students… every time we need emergent help, she is willing to give us a hand.”
  • “Ann helps anyone who goes to her for help with anything, sometimes when it’s beyond her duty.” 

Teresa Nguyen, Student Accounting Associate

  • “She stays on top of our many, many student financial issues, is an extremely reliable source of information and is super friendly.”
  • “Teresa’s cheerful disposition, her determination, and her professionalism seem to go above and beyond what is simply required.”

Helen Niu, Faculty Administrator

  • “Helen is always a pleasure to work with.”
  • “She goes the extra mile in her dealings with me, which is very much appreciated.”

The School of Engineering once again gave the EE department several gift cards to distribute to staff members who are recognized for going above and beyond. More people will be recognized next month, and past nominations will still be eligible for future months. EE faculty, staff and students are welcome to nominate a deserving staff person by visitinghttps://gradapps.stanford.edu/NotableStaff/nomination/create.

Ann Guerra  Teresa Nguyen  Helen Niu

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